The Tennessee Supreme Court has five cases set for its October 5, 2022, docket. The first four cases will be heard in Nashville, Tennessee, beginning at 9 a.m. CDT. The final case will be submitted on briefs. The oral arguments for the four cases being heard will be livestreamed to the TNCourts YouTube page at: www.youtube.com/user/TNCourts/featured. The details of the case are as follows:
·Kenneth J. Mynatt v. National Treasury Employees Union, Chapter 39 et al. – This case involves claims of malicious prosecution and civil conspiracy by an Internal Revenue Service employee against the employee’s union and several other defendants. The trial court dismissed the claims, determining that the plaintiff, Kenneth J. Mynatt, could not prove that the underlying criminal prosecution had terminated in his favor, which is a necessary element of the malicious prosecution claim. The court determined that the civil conspiracy claim had to be dismissed as well because the conspiracy claim was only actionable if the underlying tort were actionable. The Court of Appeals reversed, determining that, under the applicable standard of review, the trial court erred in dismissing the plaintiff’s claims. The Tennessee Supreme Court granted the defendants’ application for permission to appeal to consider whether a dismissal of a criminal action can be a favorable termination for purposes of a malicious prosecution claim.
·Emergency Medical Care Facilities, P.C. v. Division of TennCare et al. – This appeal concerns a reimbursement limitation that TennCare imposed on “non-emergent” medical services provided by emergency department physicians. TennCare informed its managed care organizations of the reimbursement limitation via email without engaging in the rule-making procedures outlined in the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act (“UAPA”). Emergency Care Medical Facilities, P.C., a professional corporation comprised of healthcare professionals that provide services in emergency departments, filed a petition seeking a declaratory judgment under the UAPA that the reimbursement limitation is void and of no effect because it was a rule implemented without following rule-making procedures. The trial court determined that the limitation was a “rule” subject to the rule-making requirements of the UAPA and granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff. The Court of Appeals reversed. The Supreme Court granted review of the case to consider whether the trial court properly determined that the limitation was subject to the UAPA’s rule-making requirements.
· Ernest Falls et al. v. Mark Goins et al. – In 1986, plaintiff Earnest Falls was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Virginia. He served his sentence and was later released. In 2018, Mr. Falls moved to Tennessee. In February 2020, the Governor of Virginia restored certain of Mr. Falls’ rights of citizenship, including the right to vote. However, when he attempted to register to vote in Tennessee, his registration was denied because he failed to provide evidence that he owned no fees or restitution related to his conviction as required by Tennessee Code Annotated § 40-29-202. The election commission denied his application to vote, and the circuit court upheld the election commission’s decision. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Tennessee Supreme Court granted Mr. Falls’ application for permission to appeal to consider whether, under Tennessee law, a citizen is automatically re-enfranchised when the state of their convictions restores their citizenship rights, or if the citizen must also comply with the requirements of § 40-29-202. As noted in the Court’s order granting review, Justice Sarah K. Campbell will not be participating in this appeal.
·Robert Crotty, et al. v. Mark Flora, M.D. – In this healthcare liability action, the plaintiff, Robert Crotty, alleged that the defendant physician, Dr. Mark Flora, perforated the plaintiff’s ureter during a surgical procedure to treat a kidney stone that ultimately resulted in the loss of his right kidney. The plaintiff’s condition required subsequent procedures by other physicians, including non-party physician Dr. Mitchel Wiatrack. In his answer to the complaint, Dr. Flora denied the allegations and asserted a conditional and general comparative fault defense, which did not identify any other healthcare provider. Prior to trial, the plaintiff filed a motion in limine to exclude testimony regarding the fault of Dr. Wiatrak. Dr. Flora filed a motion in limine to exclude and limit evidence of the plaintiff’s medical expenses to those actually paid or payable. The trial court granted the plaintiff’s motion and denied Dr. Flora’s motion. The trial court then granted Dr. Flora’s motion for an interlocutory appeal; however, the Court of Appeals denied the defendant’s application for review. The Tennessee Supreme Court granted the ensuing application for permission to appeal.
·Brian Philip Manookian v. Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee – In 2017, the Board of Professional Responsibility initiated this attorney discipline matter by filing a Petition for Discipline against attorney Brian P. Manookian. The complaints that are the subject of the disciplinary proceeding arise from Mr. Manookian’s objectionable communications with opposing counsel and others involved in a medical malpractice action. A hearing panel determined that Mr. Manookian had violated Rules of Professional Conduct 1.9(c), 4.4(a)(1), 8.2(a), and 8.4(a) and (d), and it found four aggravating factors to be applicable. The panel imposed a two-year suspension of Mr. Manookian’s license. Mr. Manookian filed a Petition for review to the Davidson County Circuit Court. The trial court affirmed the decision of the hearing panel, but it noted in its order that the decision imposing a two-year suspension as a sanction was “arbitrary and capricious.” The Board appealed from the trial court’s ruling affirming the sanction arguing, in part, that the hearing panel abused its discretion by imposing suspension as a sanction, when disbarment was the presumptive baseline sanction under the ABA Standards.
Media members planning to attend oral arguments should review Supreme Court Rule 30 and file any required requests.